What's The Best Web Browser For HTML5 Video Playback?

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 30, 2010
Updated • Nov 23, 2016

You might have heard about HTML5 and specifically HTML5 Video in the news lately. How the new standard is supposed to replace Flash based video players eventually. Some websites are already experimenting with HTML5 video players including YouTube and Dailymotion.

Two standards are currently competing with each other to become the HTML5 video standard: Ogg Theora and h.264. This would not be such a big deal for computer users if most browser developer's would not have decided to support only one of the two formats.

If you visit YouTube's experimental HTML5 video page you notice that they make use of the h.264 video codec meaning that browsers that only support Ogg will not be able to play the videos. Dailymotion on the other hand supports only Ogg, Theora + Vorbis and not h.264.

html5 video support

This means that users will run into situations where they cannot play HTML5 videos even if they browser supports HTML5 because of the different standards and the fighting that goes along with it. It is especially problematic since users can run into various troubles here.

It is first the choice of web browser that may determine which sites are supported and which are not, and second it is the sites that may only support one of the two technologies instead of both.

Here is a list of web browsers and the HTML5 video formats they support (please note that we have updated the listing below as of November 23, 2016)

  • Google Chrome: h.264, Ogg Theora, WebM with VP8 and VP9
  • Internet Explorer 9: h.264
  • Mozilla Firefox: h.264, Ogg Theora, WebM with VP8 and VP9
  • Safari (on Windows): MPEG-4 ASP, h.264
  • Opera: h.264, Ogg Theora, WebM with VP8 and VP9
  • Vivaldi: h.264, Ogg Theora, WebM with VP8 and VP9
  • Microsoft Edge: MPEG-4 ASP, h.264, h.265

Which browser is the best for end users? Google Chrome 3 and newer versions obviously as it is the only web browser that supports both video standards.

Most browsers support both h.264 and Ogg Theora. Only Microsoft Edge supports h.265 right now. This is one of the reasons why it supports 4K streaming while other browser's don't currently.

Considering that h.265 support is a big step forward, Edge may be the browser of choice for you when it comes to HTML5 video content on the Internet. It is however only available on Windows 10 machines.

Tip: You can check your browser's support for video codecs here.

Update: Mozilla finally came to their senses and has started to implement h.264 support into the browser. First development versions of the browser are already available and it is only a matter of months before all Firefox users get access to h.264 HTML5 video contents as well.

What's The Best Web Browser For HTML5 Video Playback?
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What's The Best Web Browser For HTML5 Video Playback?
The article discusses which browser is best for HTML5 video playback on the Internet, as browsers and sites may support different formats.
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  1. Vytautas said on February 5, 2012 at 5:21 am

    IE9 is definately best. I never thought I would ever say that IE is best at anything, but the fact is that whenever I view HTML5 vid on lets say Chrome, it is very very laggy.

    So decided to test other browsers, and thoughgt give IE a try. And guess what… No lag at all. If you want to skip through videom it lags a bit then, but not nearly as mus as chrome.

  2. John said on May 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    It’s not so simple. Firefox can’t legally support h.264 because this format is encumbered by software patents in the US.

    More explanation here:


    1. Martin said on May 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm

      But that is a huge usability problem then from a user standpoint.

  3. Jeroen Wijering said on May 1, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I’d argue that Safari is the best browser for video playback today. It is the only browser that uses hardware for decoding the video. The other browsers use software decoding, which causes issues (100% CPU) with video in SD/HD formats.

    Chrome’s support for both OGG and H264 is not a big advantage in practice. The majority of online video is in H264, with still a fair bit of FLV and WMV left and right. OGG content is virtually nonexistent.

    Browsers still have a lot of work to do to catch up with Flash for video playback. Hardware decoding aside, here’s some other random issues:

    * Streaming (live / dvr / bandwidth adaption) isn’t supported in browsers. The HTML5 spec does hint at this, but to date only Mobile Safari has a (working) implementation.
    * Fullscreen playback isn’t supported yet in browsers. Firefox 3.6 does offer this, but it’s hard to find (right-click a video).
    * Contrary to the W3C specs, every browser today actually preloads your videos on page load. You can imagine this leads to massive bandwidth usage for videos that users may or may not watch.

    Browsers will get there eventually, no doubt. But today, the best browser for video playback might be the one in which Flash runs smoothest: … Internet Explorer! ;)

  4. Dan said on April 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I was under the impression that Firefox (any version) will not play HTML5 videos. I’m running FF 3.7 and it still doesn’t work :o

    1. Martin said on April 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      Firefox 3.5 supports the Ogg Theora video format, a free and open standard for video. I suppose the websites also need to provide it in the correct format and markup. Maybe someone with a deeper understanding could shed some light on the issue.


      1. Dan said on April 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm

        Thanks for the HTML5 link. I ran the “Video for Everybody” test and it played fine in firefox 3.7, but with youtube, I’m completely denied! :( LOL

      2. Martin said on April 30, 2010 at 4:52 pm

        That’s because Youtube only offers in h.264 which Firefox does not support.

      3. Saurabh Thakur said on April 30, 2010 at 11:03 pm

        May be it will change once google releases youtube videos in vp8 and open sources the codec in Google IO

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